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Paper Review: Fleet Street believe important questions to be asked after Bianchi crash

Press discuss Suzuka conditions & whether F1 needs closed cockpits

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F1 team Marussia have released a statement thanking everyone who has wished their driver Jules Bianchi a speedy recovery.

Fleet Street believe there are important questions to be raised in the wake of Jules Bianchi’s horrific accident in the Japanese GP.

The Frenchman remains in a critical condition in hospital after suffering a severe head injury when his car crashed into a recovery vehicle tending to the broken-down Sauber of Adrian Sutil.

Reaction to the accident – and the questions it raises – dominated Monday morning’s backpages, with reports of Lewis Hamilton’s victory understandably cut to the margins.

‘The FIA, the sport’s governing body, was left facing a number of questions about safety at the race,’ writes John Westerby in The Times. ‘Some drivers felt that it should have been aborted earlier in such treacherous conditions and others felt that it had become too dark when Bianchi crashed.

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Sky Sports' Craig Slater confirms that Jules Bianchi is only breathing with aid from the Mie Hospital in Suzuka. The Marussia F1 driver suffered a critical

‘There is also the issue of why the tractor that was moving Sutil’s abandoned vehicle was left exposed to Formula One cars straying off the track at high speeds. Despite the severity of the accident, officials from neither the governing body nor the race organisers were available for comment last night.’

In The Daily Telegraph Daniel Johnson said of the decision not to neutralise the race immediately after Sutil’s accident: ‘They [the FIA] would argue that double waved yellows were sufficient, but given the visibility and the conditions, it might have been better to have deployed the Safety Car. Then again, it was a combination of very unfortunate circumstances.”

The Guardian’s Giles Richards, meanwhile, focuses on whether the race’s start time was appropriate amid forecasts of treacherous weather.

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‘The race’s late 3pm start meant that, after the earlier rain delay, the closing laps took place under heavy clouds as dusk was falling. Serious questions have already been asked about why the start time was not brought forward. With the knowledge Typhoon Phanfone was approaching, the FIA had offered an earlier start of 11am but it was reportedly rejected by the race promoters, Honda, because they did not believe fans would make it to the circuit in time,’ writes Richards.

‘At Suzuka, where darkness falls exceptionally quickly at 5.30pm, rain and any associated delay would mean potentially a wet race finishing on difficult conditions in poor visibility at dusk. The typhoon did not arrive yesterday but this perfect storm was exactly what transpired.’

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Sauber’s Adrian Sutil crashed at the same corner as Jules Bianchi and feels the race could have been stopped sooner.

In The Sun, Ben Hunt added: ‘Bianchi’s crash raises some serious questions about the sport’s safety…Bianchi’s accident could have been made worse by the design of this season’s Formula One cars.’

While echoing the corner and questions of his colleagues, Jonathan McEvoy of The Daily Mail notes: ‘Other than for the issue of whether the Safety Car should have been brought out immediately after Sutil’s crash, I believe the FIA ran the race with notable caution…It is not right to point fingers too accusatorily at this stage, before all the facts are known, though that does not mean the FIA should not provide a full explanation of the accident.’

And back at The Times, Kevin Eason wonders if Bianchi’s accident could trigger a fundamental change in the design of F1 cars in the future:

‘It has become too easy to forget that driving at 200mph is dangerous. We have seen so many drivers clamber from the wreckage, shake themselves down and start all over again that they appear indestructible,” he wrote.

‘Cars are designed to be survival cells, yet there is a single weakness, a weakness so devastating and underlined so horrifically yesterday…it is a fact of single-seater racing that the only vulnerable part of the body is the head and this accident will quicken the debate over whether cockpits should be designed into future F1 cars. The argument may be settled by events in Suzuka.’

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